In a gritty reimagining of the old Animals sound, Eric Burdon has joined up with Cincinnati garage rockers the Greenhornes — featuring the rhythm section from the Raconteurs — for a raggedy-ass street-fighting EP.
To be issued initially on vinyl for the Black Friday edition of Record Store Day this week, the four-tracks on Eric Burdon and the Greenhornes kick off with “Black Dog” — a dangerous rocker that’s sung so close, you can hear the sizzle of distortion. Burdon, emboldened by the rising racket behind him, can be found howling with spectacular force — and the Greenhornes, well, they’re calling right back.
“Can You Win” then screeches out like a rusted-through Cadillac missing a tire or two, then catches this titanic riff. Burdon matches that musical fury step for step, singing with a thunderous, open-throated soulfulness that fans of his work with the Animals will recognize. It’s colored now with age, but in no way any less powerful. “Out of My Mind,” meanwhile, is a chest-cracking ballad, all the more devastating because of its proximity to so much balled-up emotion.
Burdon, of course, had worked with the Greenhornes on East Grand Blues, their 2005 EP. They met up again after this year’s SXSW, when Bruce Springsteen gave such an impassioned argument for this very sound. Burdon and the Greenhornes arrived at Welcome to 1979 studio and produced this four-song cycle in a lickety-split day and a half. That’s clearest on the EP-closing “Cab Driver,” a loose jam that unfolds in real time. As it searches, trying and sometimes failing to find its way, this moment of complete improvisation is all the more interesting for the places this song — and this partnership — could go.
You can almost smell the ozone surrounding Eric Burdon and the Greenhornes, as Burdon, Craig Fox, Patrick Keeler and “Little Jack” Lawrence recapture something primordial in rock — something that combines pent-up rage, pent-up sexuality and pent-up dreams. Let’s hope this is just the beginning.
Eric Burdon and the Greenhornes will be released on 180 gram vinyl November 23, 2013 via Readymade Records. The EP will then be released digitally on November 27.